Day by Day

Monday, February 16, 2004

I Am Rage

And it's not some cute take-off of my nom de cyber, I am currently seeing red. I want to wrap my hands around the throats of the public "educators" and strangle them.

Why, you ask? I'll show you why. As usual, all emphasis is mine.

It is my role to academically assess, on an annual basis, all of the children at our alternative school. This is due to our kids being exempted from district wide testing based on what I call "The Spicoli Effect". This refers to their habit of drawing rocket ships on evaluation protocols if left unsupervised in auditoriums.

One-on-one sessions with students are the most rewarding aspects of my vocation. On one occasion, last October, while timing a student completing mathematics problems, the young man suddenly threw his pencil down and rose from his chair, in response to an "all call" from the PA. He walked towards the door after announcing, "I'm going to the tug-o-war".

I told him to wait a minute. I called up front, and discovered that the whole school, in the midst of academic instruction, was being summoned for festivities in the gym.

What occasion were we celebrating on that day in October? The fall harvest? No, it was yet another in a long line of contrived events, and this one happened to be titled "Wacky Wednesdays". Bizarre holidays from curriculum have become the rule rather than the exception since our school hired a new principal in 2001.

Isn't that cute? "Wacky Wednesdays"! Can students today even spell "Wednesday" without SpellCheck? The USA constantly ranks low in international testing of science, math, curriculum that doesn't need a language translation. 2 + 2 always equals 4, no matter what language it's in. Unless you're in the USA, where 2 + 2 equals fluffy pink bunnies who don't hurt anyone's feelings. But this narrative gets worse. He takes it upon himself to deal with the problem directly by talking to the supervisor. And what happens there, you ask?

Then the meeting took an Orwellian turn. I was conscious of the fact that during my presentation of deficiencies, the supervisor barely listened. Upon arrival, I expected a fair hearing. It turned out that what I anticipated to be a discussion was, in his mind, an opportunity to jerk me back into line. Improving our educational environment had little to do with why he arranged this gathering.

This was evident the moment after I finished, when he began defending Sparkle with the zeal of Mark Geragos. Every point I made he responded to with complete denial. He even informed me that Sparkle was doing an excellent job following his "community model" and that our children needed positive interactions more than they needed books or lectures.

Then, he shared something that I wish was broadcast on every talk radio program in America. The gist of it was that our students never tested well and that assessing their education was useless because they never improved. It was his belief that, through her de-emphasis of instruction which of course could have been gauged statistically, Sparkle had accomplished great things during her tenure. He claimed that we were building characters as opposed to knowledge bases--even though few believed that our students characters markedly improved under our care.


If we abandoned the pretense of imparting knowledge, then there would be no way to evaluate the entire venture (analyzing future incarceration rates would not help our cause). Accountability was no longer possible, which may have been their goal in the first place.

When he finished speaking, it was basically the end of the meeting. There was nothing more to say. All my ideas and initiative evaporated with his responses. This emperor wore clothes, and they were funky, pastel and meant more for a disco than our current educational environment.

He acknowledged the problem and deemed it good.

It is time to acknowlege that by and large, the public school system in this country is a failure. A miserable failure, who's only goal in this world is to keep the cash cow alive, milk it as long as possible, and in the process condemn the students entrusted in their care to a sub-standard education. There have been multiple examples of how public schools are failing the children of this country, most notably in Washington DC. I myself have shown the failures of schools in the State of Washington, even as those teachers were screaming for more money. And Mrs. du Toit has a series of essays (One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six) dedicated to the failure of public schools and the benefits of pulling your children out of those dens of mediocrity. Everywhere you turn, you see the results of public schools, and their doctrine of failure. Not only are the kids not learning much, but some schools can't even control what happens in the classroom. We've gone from Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic to "Is Oral Sex really Sex?" THIS is what I'm paying taxes for?

No thank you.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I do know that this farce cannot be allowed to continue. We must return accountability to our schools, or we risk watching our kids fall even deeper into the educational hole. The first step in my opinion is to cut away those who would keep the status quo. The NEA. Hawken Blog has already put up a good piece about the teacher's unions, but I think the problem goes deeper than that. There are whole groups of people who's livelihood depend on those tax dollars rolling in, and any threat to that makes them go on the offensive. It won't be easy, but we MUST remove the dead weight from the school system.

Or scrap it and start over.

Hat tip to The Smallest Minority.

No comments: